THE CRY OF THE TIGER; ENDANGERED SPECIES EXPERTS SAY SUMATRAN TIGER COULD BECOME EXTINCT; the World's Most Beautiful Animals, the Sumatran Tiger, Have Been Falling as Fast as Forests - Their Natural Habitat - Have Been Chopped Down to Be Replaced by Oil Palm Plantations. but a Global Fightback Is Well Underway

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), December 9, 2017 | Go to article overview

THE CRY OF THE TIGER; ENDANGERED SPECIES EXPERTS SAY SUMATRAN TIGER COULD BECOME EXTINCT; the World's Most Beautiful Animals, the Sumatran Tiger, Have Been Falling as Fast as Forests - Their Natural Habitat - Have Been Chopped Down to Be Replaced by Oil Palm Plantations. but a Global Fightback Is Well Underway


Byline: BRIAN MCIVER b.mciver@dailyrecord.co.uk

IT'S OFTEN said that if we can't save the tiger from extinction, what chance do any other endangered species have? The world is on the verge of losing one of the most stunning breeds of tiger - with just a few hundred Sumatran tigers left in the wild.

Thanks to the deforestation related to the palm oil industry - used in everyday items such as lipstick, margarine, sweets, battered fish and chocolate spreads - the island of Sumatra's big cat population is dwindling at an alarming rate and has been described as "clinging to survival".

Only breeding programmes such as those at wildlife parks and zoos, including Edinburgh Zoo, are successfully preserving the species for the future.

Living only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the Sumatran tiger is officially listed as "critically endangered".

It is the only surviving sub-species of "island tiger", which include the now-extinct Javan and Bali tiger.

Two Sumatran tigers - Baginda and Jambi - live at Edinburgh Zoo.

Conservationists say Sumatran tigers face many challenges to their continued existence in the wild, where they require a home range of 61,000 acres.

These include being poached for their skin, bones and other body parts, involvement in conflict with people, a depleted prey base and habitat loss.

A research expedition tracked the endangered tigers through the Sumatran jungles for a year and the findings have renewed fears about the possible extinction of the elusive predators.

Tigers on the neighbouring islands of Java, Bali and Singapore went extinct in the 20th century, prompting new anti-poaching efforts to prevent the same fate for the subspecies on Sumatra.

The efforts have been successful as the density of tigers has increased over the last two decades and their numbers are twice as high in unlogged forests, according to the latest study published in the journal Nature Communications.

But researchers also found that well-protected forests are disappearing and are increasingly fragmented.

Of the habitat tigers rely on in Sumatra, 17 per cent was deforested between 2000 and 2012 alone, erasing any gains to the tigers' chance of survival, according to the research team.

They said habitat destruction for oil palm plantations was a leading culprit of deforestation.

Study lead author Matthew Luskin conducted the research for his graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is now a research fellow with the Smithsonian Institution and based at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Researchers spent 12 months trekking through remote Sumatran forests, mounting hundreds of remote cameras that take pictures and video whenever an animal passes. Individual tigers are identified by their unique pattern of stripes, allowing researchers to track their movement.

With information from the cameras, the scientists calculated a Sumatran tiger's home range to be about 150 square miles, about three times the size of San Francisco and much larger than tiger home ranges in regions such as India. …

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THE CRY OF THE TIGER; ENDANGERED SPECIES EXPERTS SAY SUMATRAN TIGER COULD BECOME EXTINCT; the World's Most Beautiful Animals, the Sumatran Tiger, Have Been Falling as Fast as Forests - Their Natural Habitat - Have Been Chopped Down to Be Replaced by Oil Palm Plantations. but a Global Fightback Is Well Underway
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